Ford is one of the finalists vying for a $6.3 billion contract to build the next generation U.S. Postal Service delivery truck, and it’s already thinking about taking them to the next level.
That’s based on the fact that the automaker has responded to a separate request for information (RFI) from the agency asking for proposals on autonomous technology.
“The goal is to enable the operator to sort and organize mail while the vehicle autonomously drives between delivery points/mailboxes. The autonomous vehicle is expected to be able to monitor the environment and perform all safety-related traffic monitoring,” the RFI says. It has not been revealed if any other companies have made submissions.
The USPS is just looking for ideas on integration and production to help it identify potential candidates for future projects and isn’t awarding a specific contract yet. However, it has already begun testing self-driving tech.
The USPS recently launched a two-week trial of a self-driving semi-truck developed by TuSimple that made five deliveries between its processing centers in Phoenix and Dallas.
Ford is planning to launch a self-driving commercial delivery service by 2021 and is currently evaluating the feasibility of using two-legged robots that are capable of unloading a package from a vehicle and carrying it to the front door of a home.
As far as the conventional trucks are concerned, Ford has partnered with Oshkosh on a Ford Transit-based vehicle to replace the iconic Grumman LLV, but is keeping details close to the vest, as are the other four bidders.